Korean independence outbreak beginning March 1st 1919

([S.l. :  s.n.,  1920?])



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Seoul, Korea,April 29/19

(Extract from Seoul Press, April, 2nd. 1919)

"Yesterday at 10 A. K. Governor Matsunaga summoned over 40 repre¬
sentative Korean Merchants in Seoul and advised them to re-open
feheir shops immediately promising them the protection from intimi¬
dation by agitators. At the same time the Governor issued a warn¬
ing to Korean Shop-keepers urging them to resume business. In con¬
sequence Korean shops in Chongno and other principal streets were
seen re-opened at noon."

So simply done apparently. Just a sensible talk and a threaten¬
ing warning and most of the shops opened. But this is only one
half of the story, and the most uninteresting half at that.  The
shop-keepers accounts make very different reading.

Everyone who has followed the movement in Korea has been
struck by the action of the merchants both large and small in
closing thfcir stores and refusing to do business since a little
time after the start of the independence movement. A few shops
have remained open although, but the majority of them closed
fiheir doors on or about March 5th, and although much pressure was
brought to bear on them by the officials, they all remain closed
until they were forced upon a month later at the point of the
bayonet. This was the silent manner in which the business men
Called "Mansei". The Japanese reports on the subject stated
that the shops remained closed on account of the fear of the
owners of assault and damage to their premises by the agitators.
It may be that a few of them were influenced in this manner, but
they were few - very few. The vast majority of them closed
because they were in deep synjjpathy with the independence move¬
ment and in this manner made a silent protest against the ruth-
lessness of the Japanese.

Early last month when the stores first closed the Mayor
called a meeting of the merchants and remonstrated with them for
their foolish action. This had no effect and they imanimously
decided to remain closed. They v/ould open on one condition.
They told the authorities "That when they let all thoir brothers and
sisters out of prison they would re-open their shops."
They said, "They are suffering for us and it is impossible for
to buy and sell v/hile thoy are suffering torture and cruelty."

The report that the shop-keepers were afraid to remain open
on account of their fear of Korean agitators can be disproved in many
ways. (1) The Korean shopkeepers by remaining closed hoped
to obtain the release of their imprisoned brethem. (2) That
those stores which remained opened were not molested except in
a few instances. (3) That after the stores were opened by the Pol¬
ice in the main streets none of the agitators made any assault on
them although in the smaller streets hundred of the smaller shops
remained closed. The shop-keepers knew that they would receive
every police protection if they opened up, yet large numbers of them
went to prison rather than open their doors. VJhen one of
the police was asked if the Koreans wished to open their shops
he answered IJo! They explained they were only carry out orders,
for the closing of the shops was interfering with business
and that in the end it would cause suffering to the poor peoples.
The fact of the matter v/as the Japanese were beginning
to suffer heavily through the Korean refusing to do business
and it was realized that if they remained closed much longer
there would be a crisis in Japanese business circles.
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